Once the bustling hub of North Kohala's now obsolete sugar industry, Hawi is a cozy small town best known as the turnaround point for the bicycle portion of the Kona Ironman World Championship held annually in October. Today, Hawi is home to an array of art galleries, cafes, and organic markets, and is a popular foodie destination on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Begin your visit at the Kohala Welcome Center to learn about the region’s sugar plantation days and see artifacts from the old Kohala Sugar Mill. Plan to spend a few hours browsing the produce stands, quaint shops, and galleries in downtown Hawi.
To ensure you see all of Hawi’s top sights, opt for a full-day tour of the Big Island’s North Coast and visit such sights as the Kohala waterfalls, Kohala Historical Sites State Monument, and the old Kohala Mule Station.
Things to know before you go
- Hawi is a small town on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast.
- The Kohala Coast is home to some of Hawaii’s most significant ancient sites.
- The Hawi Farmers Markets is open on Saturdays and the Kohala Grown Market carries local produce from around the island.
- Kohala waterfalls tours are not wheelchair accessible.
How to get there
Hawi is the northernmost town on the Big Island of Hawaii, located about an hour’s drive north of Kailua-Kona and a 40-minute drive from Waimea via the Kohala Mountain Road. Public transportation service is infrequent to Hawi so plan to arrive by car or via a tour from Kailua-Kona, Waikoloa, or Waimea.
When to get there
The Kohala Welcome Center is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm with opening hours varying on the weekend. Hawi is not as busy as other Big Island attractions like Volcanoes National Park and the Kona area beaches, so it is a great place to visit even during the busy summer and holiday tourist season.
Hawi’s Historic Sites
Just west of Kawi is the birthplace of King Kamehameha and many visitors are drawn to the area to see the original Kamehameha statue, which stands outside the Kohala Welcome Center. Another popular historic site is the ruins of Mo’okini Heiau, Hawaii’s first ever temple and an important archaeological site. Outside the ruins lies an interesting boulder with ancient markings thought to have been used in human sacrifice.
- How to Get Off the Beaten Path on the Big Island of Hawaii
- How to Spend 3 Days on the Big Island
- How to Spend 1 Day on the Big Island
- Where to Stay on the Big Island of Hawaii
- Don't Miss These Must-Do Activities on the Big Island of Hawaii
- First-Timers Guide to the Big Island of Hawaii
- Things to Do on the Big Island of Hawaii This Summer